Air New Zealand wins top sustainability award

Air New Zealand has been named the overall Supreme winner of the 2016 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards. Judges said the company had demonstrated true corporate leadership in sustainability since launching its Sustainability Framework a year ago.  

The framework sets out social, environmental and environmental goals, priorities and targets for six areas: Our Communities, Our People, Carbon, Nature and Science, Tourism, and Trade and Enterprise.  

Action items included the bold move to transition its existing car fleet to electric vehicles (EVs), saving 65,000 litres in fuel each year. The judges were impressed that Air New Zealand did not wait for a pending announcement on a government subsidy for EVs but instead has forged ahead with its plans. 

Furthermore, the company challenged other New Zealand corporates to follow suit, which stimulated CEO-level sustainability conversations throughout the country.  

Air New Zealand recently formed an alliance with Mercury, supported by Westpac, to launch an initiative to encourage the uptake of EVs in corporate fleets in New Zealand. So far more than 30 organisations have pledged to transition at least 30% of their corporate fleets to electric in the next three years. This total private sector commitment of more than 1,450 vehicles will increase the number of EVs on New Zealand roads by more than 75%. Along with the significantly lower running costs of electricity, this could remove almost three million kilograms of carbon emissions annually. 

Sustainability permeates Air New Zealand’s business from the purchase of fuel efficient aircrafts to recycling and repurposing old uniforms, diversity workplace programmes, identification of Te Reo speakers on board aircraft and environmental programmes to preserve New Zealand’s natural environment. Furthermore, Air New Zealand’s sustainability framework is guided by an international panel of experts that challenge and advise the airline. All the airline's initiatives can be found here.  

Rachel Brown, Sustainable Business Network (SBN) Chief Executive says over the past year there had been a significant upswing in the number of businesses taking a systematically sustainable approach. 

“Air New Zealand’s very public commitment has had a big impact on the speed and uptake of sustainability from business. 

“As one of the nation’s biggest burners of carbon, it is setting a fantastic example of how it is possible to set big aspirations to operate in a sustainable manner.  It has called on an internationally-renowned group of experts to push it on its strategy and delivery. The scale of the challenge is huge but it is determined to succeed. 

"Air New Zealand's integrated company-wide approach means it is now being recognised as the nation’s greatest contributor to sustainability.” 

This year’s NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards recognised 22 other organisations’ and leaders’ sustainability efforts.  

Travis Atkinson, Executive General Manager of NZI, which is principal partner of the Sustainable Business Network, says: “As an organisation that provides business insurance for a growing New Zealand, being sustainable is at the heart of the way we do business, so we salute the SBN for helping New Zealand businesses change the way they think and reshape how profit is made.” 
 
The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards, which are now in their 14th year, celebrate the contribution organisations and individuals are making to transforming New Zealand to a more sustainable nation. They focus on four transformation areas that are key to the future direction of sustainability in New Zealand: Renewables, Community, Mega Efficiency and Restorative. The supreme award, NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand, is awarded to a business that has performed outstandingly well in all aspects of sustainability. 
 
NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards 2016 results: 
 

Sustainability Champion 
Winner – Barry Coates, Green Party, formerly Oxfam and The University of Auckland 
Commendation – Gareth Morgan, The Morgan Foundation  
 
Cadence Communications Communicating Sustainability 
Winner – Better NZ Trust 
 
EcoPro Cleaning Co Community Innovation 
Winner – Ecotricity 
Commendation – Kiwibank and Banqer  
Commendation – Little Yellow Bird  
 
Airbnb Community Impact 
Winner – Sustainability Trust 
Commendation – Good Neighbour Trust  
 
Ricoh Mega Efficiency Innovation 
Winner – Ecotricity 
Commendation – Energy and Technical Services 
Commendation – Method Recycling 
 
Auckland Council Mega Efficiency Impact 
Winner – Kiwi Experience 
Commendation – Fulton Hogan/Tauranga Airport Authority  
 
Renewables Innovation 
Winner – NZ Bus  
Commendation – Scion  
Commendation – Flick  
 
Renewables Impact 
Winner – Air New Zealand 
Commendation – ChargeNet 
 
Yealands Family Wines Restorative Innovation 
Winner – Ekos  
Commendation – Junk Run 
 
Restorative Impact 
Winner – Ceres Organics 
Commendation – We Compost  
Commendation – ZingBokashi 
 
EECA Business Energy Management 
Winner – NZ Bus  
Commendation – Fonterra Edendale site  
 
NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand 
Winner – Air New Zealand 
Commendation – Ceres Organics